2019: The Year Climate Litigation Hit High Gear

One of the busiest years yet for climate litigation, 2019 was highlighted by favorable decisions handed down by some of the world’s highest courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court kicked off 2019 by clearing the way in January for Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to continue her investigation of Exxon, and she eventually filed a climate fraud lawsuit against the oil giant in October.

The Dutch Supreme Court wrapped up the year in December by upholding the landmark ruling in Urgenda v. The Netherlands that said the government has a human rights duty to protect its citizens from climate change and must reduce the country’s emissions.


In between, Exxon stood trial for climate fraud and newly revealed documents showed how far the fossil fuel industry has gone—and continues to go—to deny and delay action on climate change.

There was also an uptick in attempts by companies and their trade associations to control the climate narrative and some downright dirty tricks targeted attorneys involved in climate litigation.

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